By now you may have read my account of my first 50 mile race, and you will have noticed that things did not go to plan. On the plus side I was able to turn things around and avert disaster. As it turned out a number of my trail running buddies also suffered and took a lot longer on the course, and so although my race hit the skids at aid station 5; pretty much most runners had a tough day out there.
So what did I learn from my first 50 miler? Well, firstly my plan to get in as much distance as I could before the sun kicked in, was perhaps not the best idea. I have discussed my strategy with others following the race and I’m not the first to try this crazy idea, but the issue is that if you go out too hard and too fast, then your core body temperature is hot before the sun gets you hot. That then leads to a hot runner getting even hotter.
So basically I set myself up for a double whammy of being too hot from running and then increasing the heat from the 35c plus temperatures out on the course. Add to that mix, lots of climbing and technical descents, it’s just a recipe for disaster. That’s why I was a hot disorientated mess when I got to aid station 5. But the whole thing about running, racing or indeed any sport is. you will make mistakes but you need to learn from them.
My next mistake was not testing my nutrition thoroughly enough and I will explain this. I have used Lara bars on various runs. But never have I tried to eat them, when I have gone all out in the heat and that’s my problem in that, I tried as best as I could but I just had so much trouble chewing them.
I got to aid station 5 and I just really could not continue with the Lara bars. I was tired and did not want the additional weight of them, so I handed over my bars to my sister who was crewing me at that aid station, and decided to just use what was provided at aid stations.
Another lesson learned was my use of Tailwind as an electrolyte and calorie intake. I had used it in the past on my runs but usually had water too. I normally used sachets on long runs prior to my 50 miler. They say never use something untested but to save money, I got a large bag of Tailwind and made up portions of powder in zip lock bags to be used at each aid station. The issue was, I was carrying this extra weight with the powder and it was a hassle to mix up the powder, and an adding too much to one softflask (running bottle that folds flat when empty) meant the dilution was super strong. I had started with two bottles of Tailwind but that became too much, so I switched to one softflask water and one Tailwind, but as I said that meant the one softflask had the entire tailwind in it and was super strong.
At aid station 5 I gave up on the Tailwind from a weight perspective and mixing perspective and thought I would use the Ultima electrolyte at the aid stations. It tasted ok and didn’t cause any issues, but I found out at the end of the race, it has zero calories and so I now know why for the back half of the course, I felt like I was permanently running on empty. I did take gels and chews from each aid station but I think this may not have been enough bearing in mind the Ultima had no calories.
I also found on the Galatic trail descent heading towards aid station 4 that I ran out of electrolyte and water before I got to the aid station. Maybe next year I will have water purifying tablets so that I can get some creek water and keep myself going.
As mentioned earlier in this blog post, I went out fast and hard and I recall just getting fluids and grabbing one quick item at aid station 2. I skipped aid station 1 completely, so I think next year when I go back I need a different strategy.
I have done plenty of descents on long runs and it's been ok but I found some tough on this race, so I think some weights and core work may help with the race next year.
But I made it and in a good time as everyone times increased due to heat and some people even dropped, so I am proud of my race and getting it done. But certainly there are lessons for me to take away for my next races.